Day 5: Florence


David by Michaelangelo

Dan finally caught up on sleep, getting about 9 hours. I did OK at 6, although they weren’t very restful. The cold is moving on slowly and I still get tired easily, but doesn’t necessarily translate into rest with the sneezing, etc. That didn’t keep us from having the fullest day yet, leaving the hotel at 8am and returning at 6pm.

First stop was Galleria dell’Accademia. This was one of those places I didn’t think we could get into. It had seemed like reservations were required and when I tried to make them there weren’t any available for today. I’d read somewhere that if you get there early enough you might luck out. So we did. And we did. Apparently they sell a certain number of reservations, with an increased price, but still have a regular entry fee for those who want to stand in line. (You’ll hear this bit a little later, too.) There was small group of people standing around the “Reservations” door; and the “No Reservations” door had no people in front of it but it was blocked. The attendant asked if we had reservations. “No, we don’t.” “No problem,” he says, and he undid the rope and we walked right in. Score. It probably helped that it was 8:45am.

It’s a pretty small museum. And half or more of the works are pre-Renaissance religious pieces that we don’t care for. (I think the style is Gothic – unnatural looking faces, lots of halos. We love Gothic architecture, paintings not so much.) The rest was OK, not a lot that was special. There’s really only reason to come, and it was the only reason I wanted to come: David. Is it worth €12.50 (each) to see up close what some believe to be the finest piece of sculpture known to mankind? You’ll have to decide for yourself.

I had actually come out of a side room that emptied out right at the end of the hall leading up to him. I turned and Dan standing there with this big grin on his face. This sculpture really does knock your socks off.
 This is the hall leading up to it, with five other Michelangelo pieces in it. Nothing comparable though, and all of them were still embedded in the marble from which they were being drawn. And from this view you see the scope – he dwarfs everything else in the room.

 

 

 

This room was full of plaster models of a large number of sculptures, with a video on how molds are made.
This was also in that room. It’s from mythology, of Cyprarissus, loved by Apollo for his beauty. One day Cyprarissus accidentally kills a deer he was fond of. He’s so grief-stricken that Apollo transformed him into a cypress tree to end his suffering.
We were only there 45 minutes. We headed to the Cathedral, or Duomo (same as in Milan), which was at the end of the same street this museum was on. The street ended at the side of the cathedral. There was an entry to our left that had no people around it, so we went in. Turns out it was the entry to the steps that take you up to the dome. The Duomo pass we had pre-paid worked, so up we went. This picture below is that entrance, or at least what it looked like when we left. The line was much longer than this photo shows; by 4pm when we were here again it was even longer.

 

It was a workout. Like several of these we’ve done, it got narrower and narrower and you went up. And more spirally. And towards the top it was two-way traffic in a one-way space, with attendants directing. Ever been on a 2-lane highway when one lane is being worked on, and there are traffic guys that direct, letting a good number of cars go through before stopping them to allow the other side a chance? It was like that 🙂
 The first stop took you to the first balcony of the dome. Started in 1296, it took about 150 years to complete.
 Dan took this and the one below from one of the windows in the staircase we were ascending.

 

 The misty rain completely destroyed our view. Oh well. When we saw all those people in line when we got down we wanted to say “don’t do it if you’re going for the view.”
Making our way back down.

The trip down stopped you at the 2nd dome balcony, which brought you closer to the painting, which is a representation of “The Last Judgment.” There are layers of worlds, starting with evil on the lower, and ascending up to heaven towards the center.

 Once we got back down we went into the cathedral itself.

 

 

 

 A clock over the main entrance. Roman numerals in military time. Never seen that before.

After we went to a museum about the cathedral. A few interesting things to see.

This is an altar sculpted in silver. It used to be in one of the side altars in the cathedral.
 From the side. The detail on stuff like this astounds me.
I’m glad we ran into this. By Michelangelo, also a Pieta, but not as well known as the one that sits in St. Peter’s (which we’ll see on Thursday). This was his next-to-last sculpture. After working on it over 8 years, he mutilated it out of frustration with flaws he kept finding in the marble block. Pieced back together, it was purchased by Cosimo Medici and sat in the Duomo for many years. Although Pieta is traditionally of Mary holding Christ after being taken down from this cross, this one also includes Nicodemus, one of the men who took him down.
Dan loves these books!
It was about 12:15 by the time we were done here. We stopped for a very light lunch at a little hole in the wall joint; the guy was very happy to see us. We thought maybe he didn’t get a lot of traffic. We were the only ones there. Then a few minutes later it was packed, with people he seemed to know. Very local. I had a prosciutto/cheese/tomato sandwich, Dan had pizza toast, which he said tasted just like the pizza he got for lunch in elementary school! (And he meant that in a good way.)
We had 1pm reservations at the Uffizi, “the” art gallery in Florence. Only as I was looking at my printed email I noticed they were for January 2. Today is January 5. Oops. Clearly I knew we wouldn’t be here on that day, I must’ve just fumble-fingered the date when I was ordering. Dang it! We went anyway, hoping maybe they wouldn’t notice or there would be some work around. No dice. We could pay the €12 each again and get a 1:30 reservation, or get in the “no reservation” line and pay only €8. We chose the latter for the time being. As we were standing in the very long, very slow moving line, we started figuring out what else we could be doing. After about 30 minutes and only 1/3 of the way through the line, and looking at the photos of the pieces people had posted on TripAdvisor, we decided it wasn’t worth the wait for stuff that looks very similar to what we’ve seen over the years. So we went on.
We ended up at Palazzo Vecchio, a palace built in the 1300’s originally for the ruling magistrates. The Medici’s lived there during some of the dynasty; it currently serves as the town hall. It also overlooks the Piazzale della Signoria, the square with all the statues where we were last night, and went again after this.

 

 

 

 

 

 This map room was pretty cool. Most of these were from the 1500’s. There was a not very good map of the Gulf of Mexico, with Florida being drawn incorrectly but the rest of it was pretty accurate – including the now Texas coast, the easy-to-spot Yucatan Peninsula, and the various Caribbean islands. It was in the corner partially roped off so you couldn’t get a good picture of it.

 

 There was something very different looking about this room. I loved the marble all around the door, too.
 This was literally called the “multi-media and relaxing room” so I took advantage.
 These are from the Piazza della Signoria. These were on the porch area that we couldn’t get to last night.

 

Dan took this from that same porch.

 

 We remembered we wanted to get back to a chocolate place we’d stepped in this morning by the cathedral so made our way back there. Passed this along the way.
 And made a quick pass through the Baptistry of St. John, part of the cathedral complex, and just across the plaza from it.

 

 And a nice photo of Dan in front of the cathedral while we were at it.
 We went to a public market area for dinner, which had this upstairs. I guess the closest thing we have to it is the food court, but this was oh-so-much better than that. Columbus types: think North Market.
 I got a margherita pizza (tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil) from one place, Dan got cheese tortellini with ham and a nice light sauce two doors down. Very good. And I finally got my gelato after. Also very good. Very Good.

 

It look us longer than it should have to realize Uscita meant Exit. Many things here are in Italian and English, but not everything, not all the time. We probably saw it first in airports and train and/or subway stations, but still it took a minute for it to click. The little green running man, however, we’re very familiar with. I still remember the first time I saw him: the Brussels airport in 2013. It also took me longer than it should have to figure out he was “exit”, but I had it figured out by the time I left that airport.

 

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